UTSA builds big lead, then holds off I-35 rival Texas State, 73-62
SAN MARCOS — Kannon Burrage led a balanced scoring attack with 15 points and UTSA built a big lead and then held off Texas State, 73-62, on Saturday afternoon in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play at Strahan Coliseum.
Michael Hale III and Jeromie Hill scored 13 apiece, while Jordan Sims and Edrico McGregor added 12 and 10, respectively, to help the Roadrunners (6-19, 2-12 WAC) earn the regular season series split with their I-35 rivals.
UTSA led by as many as 31 points in the first half, but it had to withstand a strong second half by the Bobcats (7-19, 3-11 WAC).
The Roadrunners held Texas State to 37.9-percent shooting, including just 6-of-28 (21.4 percent) from behind the 3-point line, and posted 26 points and in the paint and turned 13 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points to snap a six-game losing streak.
“We came out hitting on all cylinders in the first half,” head coach Brooks Thompson said. “We knew Texas State would make a run, but we were able to withstand that. We showed some real toughness out there and I told the guys in the locker room after the game that the way we performed today was a result of the way we practiced this week.”
UTSA used a 14-3 edge on the glass to claim a double-digit advantage on the Bobcats early in the first half. A long offensive board led to a thunderous dunk by McGregor that made it 14-7 with 12:40 on the clock.
Burrage drained a 15-foot jumper at the 8:16 mark for a 22-9 lead and Hyjii Thomas sandwiched a trey from the corner and a drive down the left baseline and dunk around a Burrage fast-break dunk to make it 29-10 with 6:39 left in the opening frame.
The UTSA lead grew to 46-15 after a pair of 3-pointers from Hill and a put-back by Burrage late in the half before Texas State closed the stanza on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 26, the largest of the season for the Birds.
The Bobcats opened the second half by scoring 12 of the first 15 points, seven of which came from Matt Staff, whose jumper from the free-throw line made it 49-32 with 16:42 left to play.
Following a missed basket, Joel Wright came up with an offensive rebound and was fouled on his put-back. He converted the plus-one to pull Texas State to within 52-38 midway through the half. Reid Koenen hit a trey from the wing two minutes later to make it a 12-point contest and then he followed a missed rebound with an offensive put-back to cut the UTSA lead to 57-48.
The Bobcats got to within eight at 59-51 when Phil Hawkins answered a McGregor layup with a 3-pointer, but UTSA responded with four unanswered points and eventually used an 8-2 run to put the game out of reach.
The Roadrunners will step out of league play and host former Southland Conference foe Nicholls (6-17) in the 11th annual Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters next Saturday, Feb. 23. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Convocation Center.